Galen Games is a female-run visual novel studio that focuses on delivering deep narrative experiences for mature audiences. They’re most known for titles such as the Deliver Us From Evil series, Snow Angel, and their newest game Dual Chroma: Far Shore which was released for NaNoRenO 2022.
We sat down with Crysil, the studio’s owner and lead developer, to talk about the team behind Galen Games, what it’s like working under time constraints for a game jam, and of course everyone’s favorite hottie Keldran!
Can you tell us who makes up Galen Games and what they do?
I’m Crysil (they/she). Galen Games started off as my personal game studio but it has expanded since and I currently serve as director/producer, artist and sometimes programmer and UI designer. You can see my art in the games as well as on the official website: www.galengames.com
My name is Rico (he/they), I’m a freelance voice actor and scriptwriter and I have been working with Galen Games as a writer for the DUFE common route and DUFE DLC. I’m also currently working on an exciting new project coming to Galen Games. You can spot my other credits and demos on my website: www.voiceofjessricohatton.com
Hi! I’m Olivia (she/they), I’m a writer and have worked on Snow Angel, DUFE (with the Michael and Ace routes), and also worked on bringing Kassian to life in Dual Chroma: Far Shore. You can see what else I get up to at: www.twitter.com/lunamakaio. Olivia’s other website: www.imalwayscrying.net <3
I’m Ryan (he/him), a freelance voice actor and writer. I was originally brought on board as a voice actor for DUFE. Then I got really into the idea of the Ace/Keldran ship and I wrote a fanfic. That fanfic then helped inspire the Cadenza DLC. Then the team liked my writing enough that I was tapped to write DUFE: Masquerade. So now basically I’m the guy they call when they need something in the Galen-verse to be a bit more boys-lovey. https://twitter.com/hoyleryan
I’m Jane (she/her, https://twitter.com/campnellas) and I work in the Galen Games team as the in-house editor (Lady Jane needs no further introduction)
Edpin (he/him), our resident magician and composer who has never failed to bring our games to life musically since the beginning. You can find more of his music at: https://soundcloud.com/ednar-pinho
Midge (she/her) provides their programming and scripting expertise on various games including Masquerade and the DUFE DLC. You can find her itch page on: https://midge-the-tree.itch.io/
Hi, my name is Rowanty (he/him)! I am an economist, artist, and a scripter with a knack for animation. I helped script and beta-test the original DUFE and Dual Chroma: Far Shore! You can contact me or see more of my work on twitter at: https://twitter.com/rowanty1
Ashe (they/she) has been our go to Voice Director ever since DUFE and they’ve made the whole process really smooth and easy. You can find more of their lovely work at: https:/www.pixelsandpins.com/
And we’ve also worked with a multitude of freelancers and VAs on our different projects and hope to continue doing so!
How would you define Galen Games and the kinds of visual novels you make?
We have three important tenets for our games:
- Hot guys
- Mature target audience
As director, what I strive for first and foremost is to create worlds and tell rich stories that I would love to read. We also take great care with each game and hope that it turns into a lovely piece of art and pour a lot of love and effort into it. Most of our visual novels are going to have romantic elements and standard visual novel features but we hope to innovate a bit more in the future and focus more on engaging narrative design now that we have a good formula down!
How did you get your start directing a game studio?
Honestly it just happened when I found myself with extra time during the pandemic – I started Galen Games on my own initially to do commercial games (I was developing my own visual novel before participating on jams) but it was only after really getting involved with the community and gathering a team of equally passionate people that the studio solidified into what it is now!
Why did you choose the name Galen Games?
Funnily enough because of Keldran and the alliteration it makes with his surname. I started developing visual novels because I wanted to make and share something with Keldran in it so it made so much sense to have something associated with him in the company name. Sometimes I joke with the team that Keldran secretly owns the company.
Your studio may be most known for Deliver Us From Evil… or better yet, Keldran. Tell us a bit about him and why he means so much to the team.
I’d like to think of Kel as our personal mascot. He’s a difficult character but there is so much charm to him that you can’t help but like him. Our main Keldran writer can give you a couple more sentences since they’re a huge fan:
It is the truth, I have been a massive Kel fan since the beginning of development for DUFE. The funny thing was, Keldran was only meant to be a cameo non-romanceable character in DUFE but he won over the hearts of the devs and the fans with such little effort. Writing for Keldran, especially in the DLC, proved quite the thrilling challenge because beneath those debonair smiles and gilded apparel lay a complex and (apologies Kel) flawed individual that just made me connect with him on a deeply personal level. Seeing the positive response he’s gotten from friends and fans alike makes my heart swell with joy.
How do you feel being associated with one particular character (or set of characters)? Does that help or hinder your growth as a developer?
I think it’s really what you make of it. Since Keldran is my biggest muse I’m really happy with how things turned out. Since he’s turned into such an integral part of the company we’re likely going to treat him like Cid in final fantasy and have him appear in subsequent games in some shape or form, which is actually pretty exciting.
Galen Games released a DLC featuring a poly route for the otome jam entry, Deliver Us From Evil. This isn’t a common choice, what led you to this decision and how do you think it turned out?
The Poly Route started as a throwaway idea provided by Ace VA and DUFE: Masquerade writer Ryan, one that we all sort of agreed on. Then, upon release of the original DUFE build for Otome Jam 2021 we were unfortunately trolled by homophobic comments due to the fact that one of our LIs, Ace, is a confirmed bisexual and briefly mentions his past relations with Keldran during the common route. In wake of that event and realizing that very few otomes explore a character’s bi+ sexuality or polyamorous relationships explicitly and healthily, we all agreed to make the DLC route a poly route. A lot of research and workshopping went into it, as we wanted to make the relationships as authentic as possible and we are so lucky that it has been so well received!
Galen Games has participated in quite a few jams. Are there any you like more than another?
Longer jams tend to be more fun since we don’t have to rush as much. Spooktober was also a really really nice experience and I felt like the community really came together for that and it was extremely fun to play some of the other games and hear feedback all around.
What’s your advice for new developers trying to navigate a game jam?
Start small! My first jam was NanoRenO with “Snow Angel”, a short and sweet game with the sole purpose of going through the experience of making a visual novel from start to finish. I got together a small team and since I didn’t really know anyone at the time I always had a backup plan in case whatever they were recruited for didn’t work out. As a new developer you don’t have a track record so people might not take you as seriously or bail, so be ready to replace or take things over yourself.
If I had to narrow it down to basics, the goal of your first jam should be:
- delivering a finished visual novel
- Meeting reliable people with the right skills that you’d want to work with in the future.
I consider it a testing ground of sorts, your first jam isn’t the time to be ambitious, just make something that works and pick a story that serves this goal accordingly.
What led to your decision to expand upon Deliver Us From Evil with a DLC route?
A lot of it was the widespread response to the base game, especially to Keldran, our supposed cameo character. A lot of fans were sad that they couldn’t pursue a relationship with him (and frankly wouldn’t we all like the chance to?) and we the team were having so much fun exploring the possibilities of ‘what if’ and what kind of stories we could tell with him. Paired with the events mentioned previously in question 7, it also gave us the chance to explore more of the world of DUFE and the characters’ backgrounds leading up to the events of the game. One thing led to another, and now you can date Kel (and Ace). You’re welcome.
Tell us a bit about your newest game, Dual Chroma: Far Shore, an entry to NaNoRenO 2022! Was there any challenges you faced when making this particular visual novel?
No real challenges, it was more of testing our formula and really going from start to market using all that we’ve learned so far. Given that the goal was just to deliver a finished high quality game and introduce a new setting I think we absolutely nailed it. Olivia, our lead writer and second in command for this game also might have a few words to share…
For me, the most delightful thing about creating the game is also what made for the biggest challenge, and it’s an unconventional challenge at that.
Coming into creating Far Shore, there was already an established universe, yet it was completely behind the scenes. Aradal – the setting for this game and upcoming projects – is extremely interesting and full of deep lore that makes up the wider Dual Chroma universe. There’s a rich history, diverse religion and huge and varied landscape before.
No one has gotten to see this setting before, despite all the development that has gone into creating it. Kassian especially made the project and story special because he is such an alluring character, and even as a writer I wanted to see so much more of his adventures, his backstory and his personality.
This was both a wonder and a challenge because there’s so much that doesn’t make it to screen. Obviously, because the game was made for a jam, it was essential to keep the purpose and the scope of the project in mind.
This game was to be a fun and brief introduction into the Dual Chroma universe, yet once I got started, I didn’t want to stop because it was so enchanting to explore. It’s even more exciting considering that this part of Kassian’s story is only a small glimpse into everything in the universe.
Ultimately, the scope was small, but I still think we did an amazing job of creating intrigue in this setting. I, for one, can’t help but look forward to more of the Dual Chroma universe and the characters that we will get to meet.
Is there anything you can share with VN Game Den readers about future projects?
We won’t go into detail but we are definitely aiming to make more games in the fandoms we’ve built! We also want to explore different mechanics more and keep producing quality games!